[opendtv] Fwd: FW: Circuits: The HDTV Physicists Speak

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Subject: FW: Circuits: The HDTV Physicists Speak
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Subject: Circuits: The HDTV Physicists Speak


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How Close to Sit to the HDTV? The Physicists Chime In 



Last week, I
<http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/technology/circuits/16POGUE-EMAIL.html>
asked for your help. I wanted to come up with a modernized rule for how far
away we're supposed to sit from the TV in the high-definition era - and I
loved, loved, loved your responses. They ranged from homespun common-sense
nuggets to three-page formulas sent by physicists. Continue...

Advertisement
Dynamic Logic Survey 


continue

Here's a sampling of the most interesting responses. 


* "The easiest way is to use 3.3 times the height of the screen. Naturally,
this is based on true HDTV (720P, 1080I or 1080P) and 20/20 vision." 


* "Given the best resolution, you should be sitting approximately 1.5 times
the screen WIDTH away from the screen. This will give you a viewing angle of
about 30 degrees, which will create the immersive effect without having to
move your head too much to catch all the action. With a lower resolution
like EDTV, 2.0 to 2.5 times the screen WIDTH will probably be more
acceptable." 


* "Next time you see a film in a theater, take your favorite seat, then hold
up your hand at arm's length, palm to the screen, and measure the width of
the screen in palm widths. Repeat in front of your home theater and adjust
your viewing distance to recreate the screen size you personally favor." 


* "In our house, it was, 'Don't ruin your eyes!' But, of course, the TV
screen was about ten inches across, with a weird magnifier hanging over it.
(Yep, I'm old!)" 


* "I don't need no stinking engineers or complicated math to tell me the
optimal distance of screen to viewer. It's like focusing a camera; move
closer or further away until you see the image that suits you best. I'm
sitting closer now that I have HD." 


* "You are, of course, assuming that the viewer has 20/20 vision. As a
severely nearsighted TV viewer, my rule of thumb is usually, 'close enough
to annoy anyone else trying to watch the darned thing.'" 


* "Though being closer to the screen is more immersive, there is a limit to
what's comfortable for most people. If the screen occupies too wide a visual
angle, you can no longer track the action by moving only the eyes, and you
have to start turning the head. This can lead to neck fatigue and can induce
motion sickness in some viewers." 


* "David, after you sift through all the feedback here, if you come up with
what seem to be some good rules of thumb, could you please tell me what size
TV to get based on my room size, rather than what size room to get for my
TV? My house is more valuable than any TV I will ever buy." 


* "My only concern about viewing distances is a reminder that much viewing
would be of standard-definition TV broadcasting, which, because of its lower
resolution, needs to be a consideration, too." 


* "In film school (many years ago), I was taught that it has to do with
matching the screen size to the capacity of the eye's peripheral vision. You
want the edge of your peripheral vision to just catch what's going on at the
edge of the screen. I've tested this over the years and it works for me,
with slight changes as my eyesight has changed." 


* "When you look at how far people actually sit from TVs, you find that for
larger sets, it is determined mainly by the size of the room. Most houses
have 10, 12 or 14-foot room widths and that, minus the width of the TV and
the couch back, is how far most people sit from their TV." 


A more detailed response came from Rich Muller, a professor at the
University of California at Berkeley and an old friend. 


* "You don't need HDTV or video experts. You need the council of a
physicist! Fortunately, that's what I am. "Here's the answer: if the
diagonal of the screen is D, and it is HDTV (1080x1920), then your eye will
not see the pixels as long as you sit at least 1.5 D away. Thus, if you have
a 30 inch diagonal, then you can sit 45 inches away, and even closer if your
eyesight is worse than 20-20. 


"Here's the calculation. The resolution of the human eye is about 1 minute
of arc. The sine of that angle is 0.0003. Pixels closer than this will not
be resolved. "If you have a TV with a diagonal measurement D, and the height
and width are in the ratio of HDTV (1081/1920), then the height of the
screen is very close to D/2. There are 1080 pixels in that distance, so the
average spacing of the pixels is D/(2*1080) = D/2160. Thus, for a 30 inch
screen, the pixel spacing is 30/2160 = 0.014. The number of pixels per inch
is about 70. There are more pixels per inch for small screens, and fewer for
large screens. If you are observing the screen from a distance R, then your
eye resolution (with angle A = 1 minute of arc) will be R x sine(A) = 0.0003
R. This distance must be bigger than the pixel size, so we set 0.0003 R =
D/2160. That gives R = D/(2160 x .0003) = 1.5. 


"That's the rule of thumb that I came up with. At this distance, the
horizontal dimension of the screen will cover 82 degrees of your field of
view! (Your entire field of view is about 180 degrees.) So - sit up close
and be swept away by the clear visual experience." 


My favorite response, though, came from this clever reader: "Here is the
answer to how far to sit from your HDTV," he wrote. "'The way I see it, the
closer you can sit without seeing the screen-door effect, the more the
picture will fill your vision, and the more immersive the movie will be.'" 


Of course, that second sentence came straight from my original column. It
seems that in posing the question, I unwittingly provided my own answer! 


Thanks again to all who participated - this was a really great way to get to
the bottom of a difficult debate. Next week's assignment: Is there life
after death? 


Just kidding. 




This week's Pogue's Gallery Video: Digital
<http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/technology/20041223double.html>
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This week's Pogue's
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          <TD vAlign=bottom align=right width=295><FONT              
face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif color=#920300 size=-2>Thursday, 
            December 23, 2004</FONT></TD><!-- END "IN TODAY'S EMAIL" HEADER & 
DATE --></TR>
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NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"              
size=-1><STRONG>Editors' Note: </STRONG>The Circuits newsletter will 
            not be sent next week. It will return to your inboxes on Thursday, 
            January 6. Happy holidays. <BR></FONT><IMG height=8              
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        width=10 NOSEND="1"><FONT face=verdana size=-2><STRONG>THIS WEEK IN 
            CIRCUITS:</STRONG>&nbsp; <A href="#1">Making Sense of Specs 
            </A><BR><IMG height=8              
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      <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=395 border=0><!--BEGIN DAVID 
POGUE -->
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          <TD vAlign=top><IMG height=61 alt="From the Desk of David Pogue"      
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             width=256 NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face="arial, helvetica, sans-serif" 
             size=-1><!-- HEADLINE --><STRONG>How Close to Sit to the HDTV? The 
            Physicists Chime In </STRONG>
            <P></P><!-- BODY -->
            <P>
            <P>Last week, <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/technology/circuits/16POGUE-EMAIL.html";>I
 
            asked for your help</A>. I wanted to come up with a modernized rule 
            for how far away we're supposed to sit from the TV in the 
            high-definition era - and I loved, loved, loved your responses. 
They 
            ranged from homespun common-sense nuggets to three-page formulas 
            sent by physicists. <!--BIG AD (Position1 - DELETE THROUGH 'END BIG 
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            <P>
            <P>Here's a sampling of the most interesting responses. 
            <P>* "The easiest way is to use 3.3 times the height of the screen. 
            Naturally, this is based on true HDTV (720P, 1080I or 1080P) and 
            20/20 vision." 
            <P>* "Given the best resolution, you should be sitting 
approximately 
            1.5 times the screen WIDTH away from the screen. This will give you 
            a viewing angle of about 30 degrees, which will create the 
immersive 
            effect without having to move your head too much to catch all the 
            action. With a lower resolution like EDTV, 2.0 to 2.5 times the 
            screen WIDTH will probably be more acceptable." 
            <P>* "Next time you see a film in a theater, take your favorite 
            seat, then hold up your hand at arm's length, palm to the screen, 
            and measure the width of the screen in palm widths. Repeat in front 
            of your home theater and adjust your viewing distance to recreate 
            the screen size you personally favor." 
            <P>* "In our house, it was, 'Don't ruin your eyes!' But, of course, 
            the TV screen was about ten inches across, with a weird magnifier 
            hanging over it. (Yep, I'm old!)" 
            <P>* "I don't need no stinking engineers or complicated math to 
tell 
            me the optimal distance of screen to viewer. It's like focusing a 
            camera; move closer or further away until you see the image that 
            suits you best. I'm sitting closer now that I have HD." 
            <P>* "You are, of course, assuming that the viewer has 20/20 
vision. 
            As a severely nearsighted TV viewer, my rule of thumb is usually, 
            'close enough to annoy anyone else trying to watch the darned 
            thing.'" 
            <P>* "Though being closer to the screen is more immersive, there is 
            a limit to what's comfortable for most people. If the screen 
            occupies too wide a visual angle, you can no longer track the 
action 
            by moving only the eyes, and you have to start turning the head. 
            This can lead to neck fatigue and can induce motion sickness in 
some 
            viewers." 
            <P>* "David, after you sift through all the feedback here, if you 
            come up with what seem to be some good rules of thumb, could you 
            please tell me what size TV to get based on my room size, rather 
            than what size room to get for my TV? My house is more valuable 
than 
            any TV I will ever buy." 
            <P>* "My only concern about viewing distances is a reminder that 
            much viewing would be of standard-definition TV broadcasting, 
which, 
            because of its lower resolution, needs to be a consideration, too." 
            <P>* "In film school (many years ago), I was taught that it has to 
            do with matching the screen size to the capacity of the eye's 
            peripheral vision. You want the edge of your peripheral vision to 
            just catch what's going on at the edge of the screen. I've tested 
            this over the years and it works for me, with slight changes as my 
            eyesight has changed." 
            <P>* "When you look at how far people actually sit from TVs, you 
            find that for larger sets, it is determined mainly by the size of 
            the room. Most houses have 10, 12 or 14-foot room widths and that, 
            minus the width of the TV and the couch back, is how far most 
people 
            sit from their TV." 
            <P>A more detailed response came from Rich Muller, a professor at 
            the University of California at Berkeley and an old friend. 
            <P>* "You don't need HDTV or video experts. You need the council of 
            a physicist! Fortunately, that's what I am. "Here's the answer: if 
            the diagonal of the screen is D, and it is HDTV (1080x1920), then 
            your eye will not see the pixels as long as you sit at least 1.5 D 
            away. Thus, if you have a 30 inch diagonal, then you can sit 45 
            inches away, and even closer if your eyesight is worse than 20-20. 
            <P>"Here's the calculation. The resolution of the human eye is 
about 
            1 minute of arc. The sine of that angle is 0.0003. Pixels closer 
            than this will not be resolved. "If you have a TV with a diagonal 
            measurement D, and the height and width are in the ratio of HDTV 
            (1081/1920), then the height of the screen is very close to D/2. 
            There are 1080 pixels in that distance, so the average spacing of 
            the pixels is D/(2*1080) = D/2160. Thus, for a 30 inch screen, the 
            pixel spacing is 30/2160 = 0.014. The number of pixels per inch is 
            about 70. There are more pixels per inch for small screens, and 
            fewer for large screens. If you are observing the screen from a 
            distance R, then your eye resolution (with angle A = 1 minute of 
            arc) will be R x sine(A) = 0.0003 R. This distance must be bigger 
            than the pixel size, so we set 0.0003 R = D/2160. That gives R = 
            D/(2160 x .0003) = 1.5. 
            <P>"That's the rule of thumb that I came up with. At this distance, 
            the horizontal dimension of the screen will cover 82 degrees of 
your 
            field of view! (Your entire field of view is about 180 degrees.) So 
            - sit up close and be swept away by the clear visual experience." 
            <P>My favorite response, though, came from this clever reader: 
"Here 
            is the answer to how far to sit from your HDTV," he wrote. "'The 
way 
            I see it, the closer you can sit without seeing the screen-door 
            effect, the more the picture will fill your vision, and the more 
            immersive the movie will be.'" 
            <P>Of course, that second sentence came straight from my original 
            column. It seems that in posing the question, I unwittingly 
provided 
            my own answer! 
            <P>Thanks again to all who participated - this was a really great 
            way to get to the bottom of a difficult debate. Next week's 
            assignment: Is there life after death? 
            <P>Just kidding. 
            <P>
            <P>
            <P>This week's Pogue's Gallery Video: <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/technology/20041223double.html";>Digital
 
            Picture Frames</A>. 
            <P>This week's <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/technology/poguesposts/index.html";>Pogue's 
            Posts</A> blog. </P>
            <P></P>
            <P><I>Visit David Pogue on the Web at </I><A              
href="http://www.davidpogue.com";>DavidPogue.com</A>. 
        </FONT></P></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><BR><BR><!--END DAVID POGUE 
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      <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=395 border=0><!--THIS WEEK IN 
CIRCUITS - ARTICLE 1 -->
        <TBODY>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><A name=1></A><STRONG><FONT              
face="verdana, helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000 size=-2>THIS 
            WEEK IN CIRCUITS</FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
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NOSEND="1"><BR><A              
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             width=75 align=right border=0 NOSEND="1"></A> <FONT              
face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23spec.html?8cir";><STRONG>Making
 
            Sense of Specs </STRONG></A><BR>By SEAN CAPTAIN <BR>In many cases, 
            product specifications may mean something different from what they 
            appear to, or mean nothing at all. <BR>* <A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23sbox.html";>Consumers
 
            Should See or Hear for Themselves</A> <BR>
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END THIS WEEK IN CIRCUITS --><!-- 
ARTICLE 2 --><A          name=#2>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><STRONG><FONT              face="verdana, 
helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000              size=1>CONNECTIONS 
</FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
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NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23vaca.html?8cir";><STRONG>E-Mail
 
            Never Takes a Holiday </STRONG></A><BR>By JOYCE COHEN <BR>For those 
            who dread coming back to an e-mail overflow, the solution is often 
            to take time off from leisure to weed the in-box. 
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END ARTICLE 2  --><!--STATE OF THE 
ART - ARTICLE 3 --></A><A          name=3>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><STRONG><FONT              face="verdana, 
helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000 size=1>STATE OF 
            THE ART </FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif"; width=1              
NOSEND="1"><BR><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23stat.html?8cir";><IMG
              height=75              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/2004/12/22/technology/23stat.gold.gif";  
            width=75 align=right border=0 NOSEND="1"></A> <FONT              
face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23stat.html?8cir";><STRONG>Digital
 
            Picture Frames Reviewed </STRONG></A><BR>By DAVID POGUE <BR>Seven 
            digital picture frames are designed to display and change digital 
            photos, or even treat you to a slide show. Which is right for you? 
            <BR>* <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2004/12/22/technology/20041223_STATE_SLIDESHOW_index.html?8cir";>Slide
 
            Show: Digital Picture Frames </A>
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END STATE OF THE ART --><!-- 
ARTICLE 4 --></A><A          name=4>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><STRONG><FONT              face="verdana, 
helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000 size=1>ONLINE 
            SHOPPER</FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif"; width=1              
NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23shop.html?8cir";><STRONG>Can
 
            You Trust Ebay Bargains? </STRONG></A><BR>By MICHELLE SLATALLA 
            <BR>As the holidays approach, Christmas spirit is a bargain-hunting 
            essential. 
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END ARTICLE 4--><!-- ARTICLE 5 
--></A><A          name=5>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><STRONG><FONT              face="verdana, 
helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000 size=1>WHAT'S 
            NEXT </FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif"; width=1              
NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23next.html?8cir";><STRONG>Accurately
 
            Measuring Battery Life </STRONG></A><BR>By ANNE EISENBERG <BR>A new 
            "gas gauge" chip for laptop batteries provide much more accurate 
            readouts of time left. 
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END ARTICLE 5 --><!--ARTICLE 
6--></A><A          name=6>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><STRONG><FONT              face="verdana, 
helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000 size=1>HOW IT 
            WORKS </FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif"; width=1              
NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23howw.html?8cir";><STRONG>MTV's
 
            High-Definition Billboard </STRONG></A><BR>By MICHEL MARRIOTT 
            <BR>Times Square soars with glittering buildings that pulse and 
wink 
            with outsized video screens. MTV's new high-definition screen 
raises 
            the ante. <BR>* <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2004/12/22/technology/23howw.chart.html";>Graphic:
 
            Bright Lights, Big Screen </A>
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END ARTICLE 6 --><!-- ARTICLE 7 
--></A><A          name=7>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><STRONG><FONT              face="verdana, 
helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000 size=1>PC FILES 
            </FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif"; width=1              
NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23cool.html?8cir";><STRONG>Keeping
 
            Your Computer Cool </STRONG></A><BR>By IVAN BERGER <BR>Your PC's 
            noise is easy to ignore, but tuning it out still takes mental 
            energy. What are the options for those who want the sound of 
            silence? 
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END ARTICLE 7 --><!--ARTICLE 8 
--></A><A          name=8>
        <TR>
          <TD vAlign=top width=395><STRONG><FONT              face="verdana, 
helvetica, sans-serif" color=#990000 size=1>VIDEO 
            GAMES </FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG height=5              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif"; width=1              
NOSEND="1"><BR><FONT face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23kids.html?8cir";><STRONG>Wave
 
            of Games Accompany Holiday Movies </STRONG></A><BR>By WARREN 
            BUCKLEITNER <BR>Spinoffs have long been a part of the marketing 
            strategy for family movies. The holidays now bring films and video 
            games in equal measure. <BR>* <A              
href="http://tech.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/technology/circuits/23game.html";>Game 
            Theory: Choose Your Role: Vampire or Card Wielder </A>
            <P><BR><A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/circuits/index.html?8cir";><STRONG>All 
            Circuits Articles </STRONG></A>
            <P><BR></FONT></P></TD></TR><!--END ARTICLE 8 --><!--BEGIN BACK TO 
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NOSEND="1"><BR><STRONG><FONT face="verdana, helvetica, sans-serif"              
color=#990000 size=-2>NEW IN TECHNOLOGY</FONT></STRONG><BR><IMG              
height=5 src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif";              
width=1 NOSEND="1"><BR><A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/18/technology/circuits/18guide.html?8cir";><IMG
              height=75              
src="http://graphics.nytimes.com/images/2004/11/17/technology/18illustration.75.jpg";
              width=75 align=right border=0 NOSEND="1"></A> <FONT              
face=arial,helvetica,sans-serif size=-1><A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/18/technology/circuits/18guide.html?8cir";><STRONG>Holiday
 
            Buying Guide </STRONG></A><BR>Our annual special issue devoted to 
            electronic gifts for work and play, along with a guide to the world 
            of online shopping. <BR>* <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/18/technology/circuits/18toys.html?8cir";>Toys
 
            &amp; Games</A> | <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/18/technology/circuits/18mobile.html?8cir";>Mobile
 
            Devices</A> | <A              
href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/18/technology/circuits/18recreation.html?8cir";>Recreation</A>
 
            <BR>* <A              
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